Use this devo as you are able, in whole or in part. Don’t feel compelled to read it all. Simply read and meditate upon whatever catches your attention. The goal is enjoying time with God through His Word and in prayer. Questions about the devotional elements?
Call to Prayer
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)
Prayer of Confession
Confession is formative. It trains us to recognize the ways our hearts have become de-formed and how Christ is at work bringing redemption in our lives. Pray with this in mind.
Heavenly Father, where can we go that you are not already present, waiting for us, and ready to bind up the wounds that sin has inflicting upon us, that we have inflicted upon ourselves? Yet do not, dear Lord, let us dwell there. No! Have mercy upon us…
…because we wander from your path into ways that seem right to us. Lord, have mercy!
…because we mistake your patience with us for acceptance of our sin. Lord, have mercy! …because we hold onto our grudges to the bitter end. Lord, have mercy! …because we so easily forget your lovingkindness in favor of lesser loves. Lord, have mercy!
Have mercy on us, Lord, in all these things and more! And thank you! Your love is better than life itself, and so we entrust ourselves to you, and say Amen in Jesus’ merciful name.
Take a moment to confess your sins, knowing that he hears you.
This reading plan will help you to develop the habit of being in God’s Word each morning and evening. Come to this time with expectation. Expect God to reveal himself to you. Expect that he delights in you being there, even when you’ve wandered away. Growing a spiritual habit is a slow, patient process. So be kind to yourself as you grow!
Readings are hyperlinked. Simply hover over the passage or click Morning/Evening Reading (email version).
Praying the Psalms: Read slowly. Take note of words and phrases. Bring them before the Lord in prayer and personalize the passage as you pray.
NT Context: “Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is a classic of pastoral response: affectionate, firm, clear, and unswerving in the conviction that God among them, revealed in Jesus and present in his Holy Spirit, continued to be the central issue in their lives, regardless of how much of a mess they had made of things.” Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: “The book of Numbers plunges us into the mess of growing up. The pages in this section of the biblical story give us a realistic feel for what is involved in being included in the people of God, which is to say, a human community that honors God, lives out love and justice in daily affairs, learns how to deal with sin in oneself and others, and follows God’s commands into a future of blessing. And all this without illusions. The Bible, our primary text for showing us what it means to be a human being created by God and called to a life of obedient faith and sacrificial love, nowhere suggests that life is simple or even “natural.” We need a lot of help.Wise discipline is required in becoming a people of God. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
Over the next few months our sermon series will explore who God is and what it means for us as His Creation to know Him. Each day this devo will tread along a variety of paths connected to the week’s theme in Knowing God. Consider this your invitation to come along for the ride as we head into the wilds of coming to know and experience God’s person and grace.
In TheJesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones draws out a thread in Genesis which many miss in the storyline of Scripture. It’s right there in plain sight and yet, because many of us tend to read the Bible as a series of disconnected stories about God, we miss it. Do you want to know is? Brace yourself. Are you ready?
Here it is: Genesis 12 follows right on the heels of Genesis 11.
Why is this insight so important?
It’s important because if you are reading carefully, being attentive to the story that’s being told, then you would notice that Genesis 11 is a story about a city named Babel which contrasts human wisdom and self-sufficiency with God’s wisdom and purposes. God comes down to see the tower and lovingly confuses their languages, because as Sally puts it, “God knew, however high they reached, however hard they tried, people could never get back to heaven by themselves. People didn’t need a staircase, they needed a Rescuer. Because the way back to heaven wasn’t a staircase; it was a Person. People could never reach up to Heaven, so Heaven would have to come down to them…”
The story moves on from the foolishness of Babel to a story where God begins to unveil his plan to rescue the people he loves. Do you see? It’s a contrast of human wisdom and God’s wisdom. And what we get in Genesis 12 is a story of God coming down, in his infinite wisdom, to make a people for himself out of an idol worshipper from Ur named Abram.
Here’s the thing that you’ve got to love is that the story gets set up perfectly at the end of Genesis 11. Abram gets introduced. He’s from Ur of the Chaldeans (where Ur-Nammu built a ziggurat on which to worship Nanna, the moon god of ancient Mesopotamia). Abram gets married to Sarai, but (literary foreshadowing) she is barren. If you’ve been following along with the story of Genesis, then you know that ever since the Fall in Eden, we’ve been looking for this promised “offspring” of the woman that will crush the serpent and the curse.
Is this the best that God has?A moon god worshipping pagan with a wife who is unable to bring forth the offspring we’re all waiting for? The tower at Babel is starting to look better and better. But this, it seems, is Yahweh’s wisdom. Impossible. Stranger than fiction. And yet…wise in ways that humans could never dream up. Sarai would to Abram by the hand and go with him far from everything they knew. And long after they were dead and gone, their tale would be told by each progressing generation of their massive family: “how faith compelled and bore them on, how barren Sarah bore a son.”
The boy would be called Laughter and we’re meant to laugh at the wisdom of God so intricately worked into the life of Abraham and Sarah to give them this “impossible son,” so that one day, as Sally puts it, “God would send another baby, a baby promised to a girl who didn’t even have a husband. But this baby would bring laughter to the whole world. This baby would be everyone’s dreams come true.”
Reflect: Read the story of Abraham and Sarah today. Laugh in wonder at God’s wisdom which, as the Apostle Paul says, seems like foolishness to humans, but turns out to be wiser by infinity than our best and brightest ideas. Ask God do help you trust his wisdom even when his plans for your life don’t make much sense to you.
Evening Prayer of Examen
Where did you move with or feel close to Jesus today?
Where did you resist or feel far from Jesus today?
Where is Jesus leading you tomorrow? Ask for joy as you follow him.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. (Psalm 16:6-7)